by Howie Howard
previewed on PC
Follow the path
Neverwinter Nights 2 is the much-anticipated sequel to the very popular Dungeons & Dragons Role Playing Game, Neverwinter Nights. The game is being developed by Obsidian Entertainment and will be published by Atari. Many of the people that worked on past D&D games, along with Obsidian's development team from Star Wars: Sith Lords are working on this title and with such a veteran staff, this one should be sure to please even the most demanding D&D RPG gamer.
This new fantasy RPG closely follows the path that the first game set and it adheres to the updated 3.5 edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. That means there are no major changes but the game will sport many upgrades and improvements. If you have played any of the past D&D games then you will be an old hand at this one. I am a veteran of the old TSR Gold Box D&D games and was very happy when my editor handed me this assignment. I have always enjoyed casting spells and building the various fighter class characters up so they will be strong enough to survive in a massive game world such as this.
Should I accept this mission?
Your adventure, should you chose to accept it, starts you out as a little known and minor character in the small town of West Harbor which is located smack dab in the middle of the Mere of Dead Men. If the thought of such a place frightens you then it should, because you will have to be extremely strong and brave in order to live in this monster-infested world. Don't fear, oh spell casting and monster bashing adventurer, because you will be joined by a bevy of willing and loyal game generated characters. These characters are known as henchmen in the Neverwinter Nights universe but I like to call them NPCs or rather Non Player Characters. In fact it certainly would be a rare sight to see someone adventuring alone in the world of D&D.
This genre of game was created to be a team effort and the person that chooses to go it alone will usually not last very long before he or she becomes a snack for your friendly neighborhood Red Dragon. All of the NPCs that may join your party of adventurers can be either computer controlled or you can control them yourself. There are 10 or more different classes for you to chose from and you can have three of them in your band of heroes at one time.
Born to be a hero
As the game opens you will find your hometown being besieged by a small army of attackers. Of course you are unskilled in the art of fighting and spell casting but you and your fellow villagers are strong of body and spirit. You will easily defeat the marauding army and this event will serve to throw you into a new era of darkness. Along the way you will have to prove yourself to the people you encounter. Many of the high level game characters will not even talk to you until you can show them that you are a capable fighter or spell caster. You will have to earn your status as a hero. As in other games of this type where you start out as the designated hero, here you must start out life as a nobody and you will slowly build your character into the game hero tasked with ultimately saving the day.
You will do this by completing a bevy of campaigns or quests and fighting a ton of different monsters. The game features over 80 different types of enemies and they come in many different colors, flavors and levels. Your duty will be to destroy them and to unearth the Secret of the Relic.
In your travels from the Mere of Dead Men to the mountainous landscape of the Old Owl and all the way to the fantastic fight at the end of the game; you will encounter beautifully rendered 3 dimensional characters and many different and interesting picture perfect locals. The fighting will be as fierce as only it can be in the fantastic world of Neverwinter. That means the clash of sword meeting solid armor or flesh or the resounding crack of your Mage casting a lightning spell will come flowing out of your speakers in all of its glory. It is all here for the dragon slaying Paladin, the winsome little spell casting Mage and the powerful Fighter.
Are they alive?
The gameplay is structured so that the computer generated henchmen or NPCs play an expanded role in the game. Each character will have its very own distinctive personality and when the computer is in control then this personality will be sure to emerge. In fact the NPC characters have such a greatly enhanced role and seeming intelligence that if you weren't aware of it, you would think they were human players adventuring along with you.
All of this serves to further the excitement and pleasure that only bashing a dragon over the head with a magically enhanced sword could provide. With all that said I'm going to head over to the fighter's guild and gather up my shield, my suit of mail and my trusty dragon claw sword and start out on my quest to free this land of the ever-encroaching evil that has beset it. Join me and together we can win over the forces of evil yet again!